By Charles Brun: Callum Smith is ready to dethrone unified light heavyweight champion Artur Beterbiev next in a fight that could take place in the summer.
Beterbiev (19-0, 19 KOs) got the news from the WBC on Tuesday, with president Mauricio Sulaiman saying that he must face his mandatory challenger Callum Smith (29-1, 21 KOs) next.
Callum thinks the 38-year-old Beterbiev isn’t “invincible” and that age will catch up to him. He says he’s hoping it’ll happen the week of the fight to capitalize on the older Beterbiev to capture his three belts.
“I’ve done my part. I’ve become mandatory so I can sit and wait and fight for three of the belts,” Callum Smith said to Sky Sports.
Smith didn’t exactly need to work hard to become the WBC mandatory challenger, as only had to beat France’s Mathieu Bauderlique, who had been knocked out in the first round by little-known Dragan Lepei in 2017.
Out of all the talented contenders in the WBC’s top 15 rankings, they sanctioned a fight between Smith and Bauderlique as a title eliminator.
The WBC made it too easy for Callum to become mandatory to Beterbiev because if they had ordered him to fight Joshua Buatsi or Gilberto Ramirez, it’s safe to say he wouldn’t have won.
“If I’m good enough to beat Beterbiev, which I believe I am, I should be good enough to beat anyone else. I believe I can beat anyone on the planet,” said Smith.
Can Beterbiev win a decision?
Fighting Smith isn’t a bad option for Beterbiev, as long as he doesn’t find himself fighting on Callum’s home turf with judges that are seemingly swayed by the crowd noise, as we saw last Saturday night with the way Artur’s fight was scored by the three that worked his fight against British fighter Anthony Yarde.
Despite dominating the fight through seven rounds, Beterbiev found himself behind on two of the judges’ scorecards and barely ahead on a third 67-66. At best, Yarde fought well enough to win one round, which was the sixth.
The point is, Beterbiev might need a knockout if he defends against Callum Smith in the UK because if the judges are going to score rounds based on crowd applause, which you can argue was the case with the Yarde fight, Artur will need to take them out of the equation once again.
The 32-year-old Smith is not the one that Beterbiev wants to fight because he was hoping he could battle WBA 175-lb champion Dmitry Bivol for the undisputed championship with all four belts on the line for his next bout. However, that would not happen even if the World Boxing Council didn’t order Beterbiev to face Smith.
Eddie Hearn, the promoter for Bivol, has already mapped out his next two fights in 2023, and they don’t include Beterbiev. Hearn wants the undefeated Bivol (21-0, 11 KOs) to face Joshua Buatsi and Canelo Alvarez. Those two fights are expected to occur in April & September.
“I’ve seen other fighters hurt him and put him over; I fully believe I can,” Callum said about Beterbiev. “I’m in my peak years now, and the time to beat him is now.
“Age is age. It will catch up to him. He’s not invincible,” said Smith about the advancing age of the 38-year-old Beterbiev.